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People v. Richey

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

July 18, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JASON D. RICHEY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois.Appeal No. 3-15-0321 Circuit No. 01-CF-495The Honorable Sarah-Marie F. Jones, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Carter and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          McDADE JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 After being found fit to stand trial, the defendant, Jason D. Richey, pled guilty to first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2000)) in Will County circuit court and was sentenced to 45 years of imprisonment. He did not file a direct appeal. Three years later, he filed pro se petitions for relief from judgment and for postconviction relief, the latter of which alleged, inter alia, that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress his confession to police. The circuit court dismissed Richey's postconviction petition as frivolous and patently without merit. Richey appealed, and this court reversed and remanded for the appointment of new counsel to amend his pro se postconviction petition. People v. Richey, No. 3-04-0839, slip order at 9 (2009) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23) (hereinafter Richey I).

         ¶ 2 After remand, the expert who found Richey fit to stand trial evaluated him again for a retroactive determination of his ability to understand and waive his Miranda rights and to give a voluntary statement to police. The expert was unable to render an opinion, and postconviction counsel thereafter filed a motion to withdraw. The circuit court granted the motion, and the State subsequently filed a motion to dismiss Richey's postconviction petition. The court granted the State's motion, and Richey appealed. On appeal, Richey argues that the court erred when it granted postconviction counsel's motion to withdraw. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         ¶ 3 FACTS

         ¶ 4 On March 22, 2001, Henry Baker was murdered. The following day, Richey confessed to the police that he killed Baker. On April 18, 2001, Richey was charged by indictment with first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2000)). His public defender filed a motion for fitness examination, noting that he had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Affective Disorder with suicidal ideation as well as with Borderline Personality Disorder, had received psychiatric treatment on several occasions, had received electroconvulsive therapy, and had been taking several psychotropic medications.

         ¶ 5 On July 11, 2001, the State filed a superseding indictment that charged Richey with 11 criminal counts; 7 were alternative murder charges, and the other 4 were home invasion, robbery, armed robbery, and residential burglary.

         ¶ 6 On July 17, 2001, Dr. Randi Zoot compiled a report of her psychological examination of Richey. Dr. Zoot reviewed numerous records and conducted an interview of Richey in arriving at her opinion. She stated, inter alia, that Richey suffered from "a serious and significant recurrent mood disorder exacerbated by polysubstance abuse and alcohol dependence. He also has characteristics of a borderline personality disorder with antisocial traits." She opined "[t]here is no evidence to suggest that his mental disorder impaired his ability to understand the wrongfulness of his actions, however, alcohol would have played a significant role in loosening up his already marginal controls."

         ¶ 7 On September 26, 2001, Richey pled guilty to one count of first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2), (b)(6) (West 2000)). He was sentenced to 45 years of imprisonment in connection with his fully negotiated guilty plea. He did not file any posttrial motions and did not attempt to appeal his conviction and sentence.

         ¶ 8 On September 13, 2004, Richey filed pro se petitions for relief from judgment and postconviction relief. In relevant part, the latter petition alleged that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress his statement to police given his history of mental health issues. Specifically, Richey emphasized that he was on medication at the time that he gave the statement and that the police told him that unless he cooperated with them, they would not return him to the medical facility at which he was residing. The circuit court dismissed Richey's postconviction petition as frivolous and patently without merit, and Richey appealed.

         ¶ 9 On appeal, this court held that the circuit court erred when it dismissed Richey's postconviction petition as frivolous and patently without merit. Richey I, slip order at 9. In arriving at that conclusion, this court stated that "while [Dr. Zoot] opined that although defendant understood the wrongfulness of his actions his condition impaired his ability to control them.

          That lack of control could have affected what, if anything, defendant told police or his ability to understand the consequences of doing so." Id. at 8. Further, this court stated that had the motion to suppress been successful, Richey might have chosen not to plead guilty. Id. Thus, this court ruled that Richey had presented the gist of a constitutional claim and remanded the case for the circuit court to appoint counsel to amend Richey's postconviction petition. Id. at 9.

         ¶ 10 On remand, the circuit court appointed Dr. Zoot to examine Richey to determine his ability to comprehend his Miranda rights and his waiver of those rights ...


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